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Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories [Kindle Edition]

Fritz Leiber
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Fritz Leiber's work bridges the gap between the pulp era of H. P. Lovecraft and the paperback era of P. K. Dick, and arguably is as influential as both these authors. From a historical context, Leiber, in fact, knew both of the authors, and his work can be seen as a bridge connecting the many different flavors of genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Edited by award-winning editors Jonathan Strahan and Charles Brown, this new collection of the grand master's fiction covers all facets of his work, and features an Introduction by Neil Gaiman and an Afterword by Michael Chabon.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 706 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1597801801
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (1 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0070YQQES
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #407,685 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A eclectic collection 31 Mar. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Smoke ghost

An office worker sees something watching him from a roof on his commute home.It starts to close in on him...

The girl with the hungry eyes

A photographer meets the perfect model, who shuns any male attention.However her attractiveness has a dark side....

Coming attraction

In a New York nuked by the Russians, women wear masks and fight men in wrestling matches. One such bewitches a British trade official..

A pail of air

On an frozen Earth dragged out of its orbit by a wandering star, a boy is asked to go collect some more air...A truly great story.

A deskful of girls

A sleazy psychiatrist/medium gets his come-uppance. Overlong.

Space-time for springers

Cutesy animal story. Not my cup of tea.

Ill met at Lankhmar

Classic fantasy of derring do and revenge against an evil magician, from the wise-cracking pair of iconic adventurers, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Four ghosts in Hamlet

Rather involved tale of a company of wandering players haunted by the Bard himself...

Gonna roll the bones

A man down on his luck, but a wonder at playing dice, gets to challenge a very strange opponent. Feels rather contrived, has not aged well.

The inner circles

A writer struggles with his muses who haunt him at home.

America the beautiful

Acerbic, ironic story of a young genius who wants to challenge a powerful, seemingly pleasant, outwardly calm America but instead settles for sex.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch this book! 22 April 2010
By Art Henderson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
None of the earliest reviews of this book are about "Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories". Two are apparently of the 1970's "Best of Fritz Leiber". The third claims to be a review of "Selected Stories", but the contents are wrong. The contents of this book are:

Smoke Ghost
The Girl with the Hungry Eyes
Coming Attraction
A Pail of Air
A Deskful of Girls
Space Time for Springers
Ill Met in Lankhmar
Four Ghosts in Hamlet
Gonna Roll the Bones
The Inner Circles (aka The Winter Flies)
America the Beautiful
Bazaar of the Bizarre
Midnight by the Morphy Watch
Belsen Express
Catch That Zeppelin!
Horrible Imaginings
The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars

These are all good stories and well representative of Leiber's short fiction output. I've read and enjoyed at least 13 of the 17 stories included. They range from SF to fantasy to horror and virtually all are among the best the field has to offer. Night Shade is a relatively small press and there were probably not a lot of copies printed. Get this book while you can.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caveat emptor and serendipity in two books under one listing 17 Aug. 2010
By Jack Of Alltrades - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are two anthologies listed under this one title. As is usual, when mining SF's golden age with amazon, confusion rains (sic) so buyer beware.

One book is the book available new here new and the other (available used here) is an anthology from the 1970's with the stories listed in an earlier review. The good news is you can buy both and only have three stories overlap.

And yes, this dude can write---and how. What a genius. The tone is dark, and considering the evolution of reality in the intervening half century since they were written it seems he was prescient. If you love cats you'll enjoy Space-Time for Springers. Leiber was a genius who knew how to please his readers---an uncommon thing today.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to a Fading Legend 4 Sept. 2010
By Randy Stafford - Published on
It's the centennial of Fritz Leiber's birth. Unfortunately, Leiber, winner of numerous awards, writer of many styles, adept in horror, fantasy, and science fiction, is something of a forgotten author. Or, more accurately, remembered for little more than a sword-and-sorcery series.

There are no stories from that series about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser here unlike the recent Night Shade Books Selected Stories by Fritz Leiber. That collection, though, is a retrospective of Leiber's entire career. This book collects Leiber's favorite stories from about two-thirds of the way into a career that covered more than 50 years. Still, the collections share six stories.

Writer's favorites are not always reader favorites. I personally wasn't excited by "The Night He Cried", an attack on what Leiber feared would be Mickey Spillane's pernicious influence on fantasy. "Little Old Miss Macbeth", sort of a science fantasy in a post-apocalypse America, didn't strike me as more than an exercise in mood.

"Gonna Roll the Bones" is science fantasy too but successfully blends dicing against the Devil in a spaceport with marital discord. "The Man Who Never Grew Young" follows the life of an immortal of our time in a universe where time now runs backward, Egyptian monuments devolving back to quarried stone, nomads leaving the Nile for the desert.

Other works are successful retoolings of mainstream stories. "The Ship Sails at Midnight" outlines the effect of a woman who becomes a muse, crutch, and inspiration to a group of men. The sexual and psychological rewards and pitfalls of the situation are well depicted. "The Foxholes of Mars" deals metaphorically with Hitler and World War One.

Political satire and suspicion of centralized technocracies is a theme in a surprising number of stories. "Sanity" and "The Enchanted Forest" all take a dim view of trying to build "normal" societies with no room for the eccentric and aberrant. "Poor Superman" is not only an attack on the grandiose promises of Scientology and Dianetics but the totalitarian faiths of the 20th century.

"Coming Attraction" and "America the Beautiful" are both stories of Brits coming to America and learning, through relations with women, of hidden sexual fetishes and social neuroses. In the first story, it's a post-nuclear war America with a mania for masked women and female wrestling. In the second, a story from 1970, America's relentless quest for perfection and a clean environment has fetishized catastrophe.

Sheer pageantry is on hand with "The Big Trek", where a man joins a bizarre calvacade of aliens leaving man to his nuked out Earth and going to the stars, and "The Big Holiday", about an American holiday of the future. Disaster on a grand scale is here in "A Pail of Air" where a wandering comet has knocked Earth out of its orbit and the atmosphere has condensed into vast drifts of frozen gas.

"Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-Tah-Tee" is about the ultimate earwig, a rhythm which threatens to so compulsively grip the human mind as to destroy human civilization. It struck me as a very Alfred Bester type story. So did "The Good New Days" to a lesser degree. It's a satire on Beatniks and set in a polluted, over automated society where having a job is the ultimate status symbol. "Mariana" treads some of the same solipsistic ground that Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint does from almost the same time.

"The Man Who Made Friends with Electricity" has been an influential story with many writers taking up the notion of intelligences haunting the technological infrastructures of man. The original is still charming.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser may be missing but there are stories from two other Leiber series. "Space-Time for Springers" is the first installment about hyper-intelligent super-kitten Gummitch. There are two Change War stories. "Try and Change the Past" shows, with a man's attempt to avoid being fatally shot by his wife, to what lengths the universe will go to preserve historical reality. "A Deskful of Girls" is kind of tangential to the series, a high tech vampirism used to steal, in a ghostly, faintly sentient, ectoplasmic form, the sexual charisma of would-be starlets and "sex goddesses". A tale that's both erotic and social criticism.

Leiber contributes notes to all his stories, and Poul Anderson's introduction reveals Leiber the man and artist.

Leiber's sheer versatility means that large numbers of stories may not be the reader's thing, but this is definitely a place to start in appreciating a fading legend.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Midcentury Modern Genre Master 13 Mar. 2014
By Roochak - Published on
The seventeen stories in this collection show how easily Fritz Leiber moved between the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres, as well as how workmanlike his stories tended to be. There's no shortage of arresting ideas here: "The Girl With the Hungry Eyes" reinvents the vampire story from scratch, while "A Pail of Air" imagines how a small band of survivors would fare on an Earth so cold that the atmosphere has literally frozen. "The Inner Circles," which Neil Gaiman singles out in his introduction, could be a semi-autobiographical piece about a collapsing marriage and a young boy's panic attack, or it could be about a man beset by demons...or maybe it's a masterfully twisted psychological horror story about a family going quietly mad together.

But keep reading and you'll find Leiber's stories solid, dependable, and entertaining without being really memorable. He can write any kind of ghost story: humorous ("Four Ghosts in Hamlet"), science-fictional ("A Deskful of Girls"), or purely horrific ("Smoke Ghost," "Belsen Express"). He helped to invent the sword & sorcery genre, which now seems extinct outside of video games, but two of his latter-day Fafhrd & Gray Mouser adventures are reprinted here. "Gonna Roll the Bones" is a tall tale about what happens when you dare to throw dice with the Devil, and "Space-Time for Springers" is a kitten's-eye view of the world, with an undercurrent of menace. They're all good stories, well told by a professional, perhaps telegraphing their endings, but solid achievements. Just like scores of other well-written pulp stories.

Note that neither "Ship of Shadows" nor "The Button Molder," two of Leiber's major shorter stories, are included in this volume. What you get, though, is still excellent value for money. It's hours of entertainment by one of genre fiction's midcentury modern masters.
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and Miss, but a representative selection of work 24 Jun. 2014
By Manly Reading - Published on
I loved some of this book, and skimmed some of it out of duty, but there is no doubt it is a fair reflection of the range of Fritz Lieber's work and personality. All his big loves, themes, issues and characters are here: Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the Changewar, theatre, cats, San Francisco, moderately kinky sex, and Germany. Most stories are some blend of horror, fantasy, sci-fi or just plain weird: strangely, I found I tended to like the earlier tales over the later ones. Of those I loved, Ill Met in Lankhmar is classic, Smoke Ghost is chilling, the Girl with the Hungry Eyes is a modern vampire tale, and Four Ghosts is touching.

I'd read some of this before, 20 plus years ago, and hoped I might like it more now that I am apparently more grown up.

Apparently not.

The Curse of Smalls and Stars failed to really grab me when I first read it, and its still - well, OK, I guess. Somehow, Fafhrd and the Mouser are boring now. The comparison to Ill Met in Lankhmar is telling.

If you like some of Lieber's work, you should read this - you will probably find more that you like, and possibly some stuff you don’t. It’s a fantastic collection without being a collection of fantastic stories, if that makes sense. Its part of the foundations of modern genre writing, and its important in that sense even if I cant say reading it was an unalloyed joy.
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